「アスタリスク / テスト勉強 / イメチェン / 激闘, 再び」 (Asterisk / Test Benkyou / Ima Chan / Gekitou, Futatabi)
“Asterisk / Studying for Exams / A New Look / Spirited Combat, Again”
One tried and true pattern that Asobi Asobase abides by with its humor is to present a segment with an initial idea, and then switch the tracks on said idea so that the section’s trajectory goes in a completely different direction. One part of the episode that stuck to this principle the hardest was its “Studying for Exams” skit, where it was originally set up to have Hanako direct her ire at Misa-chan for being at the top of the class when she worked hard enough to make it to second place. With Hanako reflecting on her friends’ poor study habits and the work she feels Misa didn’t put into being at the top, the skit takes a turn to the surreal as the jokes focus more on her butler Maeda’s method of cheering her up. With the help of her grandfather, the two create an android boyfriend named Koichi-kun, but she soon finds that her new boyfriend is extremely creepy with his constant leering and his voice frequently changing between Maeda’s and her grandpa’s. To find that we could begin with Hanako wallowing in her jealousy of Misa and end with her decapitating an android boyfriend that continues to smile and wink even after losing his body fits what the show has been going for as far as creating a humorous labyrinth for the viewer to figure out the exact trajectory of a segment.
Unpredictability isn’t just with the show’s humor, however, as Asobi Asobase uses its first part of the show “Asterisk” to tug on our heart-strings. The mood shifts quickly for Oka-san when the club member who “teleported” turned out to be ill. Oka-san is torn apart about the possibility that her friend Mato Aguri (aka Agrippa) might be deathly ill after her last time seeing Mato hinted that she might disappear after she attempts to create Fifth Pentacle of the Sun to discover teleportation. It’s not until the very end that you find out that sensei was hiding that Mato’s ailment was Hemorrhoids, but it spent a majority of its section in a surprisingly sad tone with how much effort Olivia makes to get her to snap out of Oka-san’s switch back to reality being caused by her friend’s potential disappearance. They helped ease us into the punchline with her method of healing Mato by placing dozens of pins in a New Orleans-style voodoo doll, but it is admirable that the series can dabble in serious scenes without feeling too heavy or out-of-place.
That’s not to say that there weren’t as many hilarious moments within the episode’s other skits as well. The rest of the episode could come out strong with segments like “A New Look”, where the summer sun gets to Olivia, resulting in her wanting to cut her hair short without hesitation. As she starts taking a pair of scissors to her hair, she becomes increasingly concerned about how much she’s cutting off up until she makes crucial mistakes with her hair that outright ruin her hairstyle. Hanako letting the cat out of the bag about Olivia’s BO was funny, but as time went on, it got even funnier with sensei cutting her bangs to look exactly like hers to Olivia’s horror. “Spirited Combat, Again” was also great with how far they take a simple game from Hokkaido where you tug at someone’s legs like Daikon to get them out of a circle. In a similar vein to the other games where they pit themselves against each other, outright betrayal isn’t off the table, and it’s priceless to see the terror on Hanako’s face as Kasumi drags her away after Olivia intentionally lets go of her. It’s great to see the show continue keeping its momentum strong, and the last skit helped solidify just how humorous they can keep the formula they’ve perfected.